[May 27, 2016] Two days ago, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton rebuked the Democratic House Minority leader Harry Reid on the senate floor.1,2 Cotton summed up his comments by calling Reid’s leadership “cancerous.” Many will dismiss Cotton’s comments as politics as usual but those who have seen Harry Reid speak publically will agree with the “cancerous” observation. The real question is, what does he mean by cancerous leadership?
“Cancerous” leadership, according to Cotton, means someone who is “bitter, vulgar, incoherent …” among other things, such as stretching the truth, lying to the public, name calling, and hateful commentary. What it really means of course is that Reid’s leadership is bad in many ways. Reid has acted unprofessionally in his ethical and illegal behavior that goes far beyond what is said in the senate and at the microphone of the media.
Harry Reid’s corruption is well documented (see link here, here, and here). Even those who identify as his allies, agree. The fact that he remains in the U.S. Senate is, of course, a disgrace. If he was a member of the U.S. military (where he never served), Reid would have been booted out long ago. Or as a member of any professional group, he would have been forced to resign or fired.
There is a solution to cancerous leadership – which is really just bad leadership –it requires moral courage. Solutions are many but the common thread in them all is that it is addressed quickly and strongly. In the military, a failure of any leader is addressed swiftly. A bad leader is educated in the proper methods and philosophy of good leadership and given a short time to make the transition. Those failing to change their bad behavior are removed.
Harry Reid has no one to answer to; other than the voters in his state of Nevada. In professional organizations, everyone has a boss that has an interest in seeing that leader succeed. Formal education is one successful way professionals train potential future leaders who have shown promise. That is why politicians often act so badly; they are not trained in leadership either formally or informally.
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- See the video of Senator Cotton’s comments here (a YouTube video, 2:32 minutes) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUcbn7wbDsI